It’s been 5 weeks since my dad died. I feel like I've been dreaming.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
It's wonderful to spend time with old friends. My old friends stick up for me, don't kick me when I'm down, are damn funny and they keep me real. With my old friends, we laugh just as hard as when we're sober, as when we're on our second bottle of wine. We can disagree and feel shitty, but then we realize that what was said, doesn't really matter as much as our friendship. I feel connected with my old friends. I just love them!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
A week after my Dad’s memorial, I was panelist for several forums at Spindletop Film Festival. I talked about being an actor, being an Associate Producer, what Storie Productions is doing with self distribution, screened jumping off bridges, and was answering questions for our Q & A. Afterwards, I was so fried, that Tracy and I headed back to the hotel to regroup and get something to eat.
At dinner though, my home life and professional life collided and I thought I saw my dad at the restaurant. In a single instant, my heart rejoiced to see him, completely having forgot that he had died. I felt as if I was about to join him for dinner. Then I remembered that it couldn’t possibly be him.
Through my tears, I could see it was just an elderly gentleman.
Two days later, I picked up Stacy for early flights to DC for our screenings with NIH, at the American Film Institute’s, Silver Theater. Matt Boratenski AFI’s Coordinator for Screen Education was there and it was great to finally meet him in person. The first screening was awesome. Our film was the center piece for a CEU earning educational program. There was an excellent power point presentation afterwards and the attendance was 100+ strong. Overall, the morning event was beyond my expectations and Lauren Hockman of the Mental Health Association, who put it all together, is awesome and ran a professional event.
Because we had some time to kill before the evening event, Stacy and I decided to catch a film. We started with Babylon. It was really good, but also a very intense and after an hour, I just had to leave. There are certain things I ‘m not up for right now and anything depicting violence, anguish, death, heartache (you get the idea), is too hard to take. I felt myself getting more and more upset and realized that if I didn’t get out of there, I would be a mess. So I ducked into the Russell Crow movie, A Good Year, which is the complete opposite of Babylon. Basically, it’s the male version of Under the Tuscan Sun. A warm, soft, fuzzy type of film, with beautiful scenery of Province. O.K. I thought, I can do this.
The evening screening and dedication of our film to Dr. Wayne Fenton was excellent. I think there was about 300 people there. Dr. Bruce Fuchs of NIH spoke and is an amazing man. Many more top folks at NIMH and NIH spoke as well and I was very impressed with their intelligence and compassion. Then Stacy and I were part of a wonderful Q and A. It’s obvious that jumping off bridges, opens doors and inspires people. Audience members kept asking great questions and offering comments on the film. After the Q and A, more people were telling us how much they loved the film and what it meant to them. It was really great. In the course of one discussion, I had said that my dad passed away three weeks earlier and I thought I was going to get a group hug! Have I mentioned I love mental health professionals.
The next day, Stacy headed back to Austin, and I flew to Florida to get my mom and bring her back to my home for support and lots of love.
This past week has been, in varying degrees, difficult and heart wrenching, and loving, tender and sweetness. Really, every emotion, and all of them very strong. To be honest, I want to sleep for a week, but this rides not over and I know it’s not stopping anytime soon. This ride is, I guess, also called life.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
I can rationalize my father's death by saying he lived a full life and that he would never have wanted to dwindle into old age.
But I can't believe I will never sit with him again, ask him what to do, and kiss his sweet face, over and over.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
I mentioned this to a friend of mine last week and they said, “Oh you’re a daddy’s girl.” I have to say though, that I wasn’t because the idea that there was something unique about my dad, is a belief I’ve carried into adulthood.
Growing up with his words, his actions, ideas, and his energy, has over time, reinforced to me, that he was extraordinary.
When he was a boy, he worked at a grocery store and the owner told him to put the overly ripe fruit on the bottom and cover it with the fresh fruit. This deception, so appalled my dad, that he quit.
Fairness to others, honor, being a true gentleman. This was a philosophy he practiced all his life.
When I was a kid and he used to do consultations at the prisons, I asked him, how could he work and help those bad people. He said, “Well, not all of us are born with equal chances or intelligence.”
When I was in college, he was giving a lecture to one of my classes on the mentally retarded and a student asked, “Why does the mentally retarded need a psychiatrist?” And he said, “Just because they are mentally retarded, doesn’t mean they don’t have mental illness. They have the same mental illnesses as everyone else, including depression. They understand that they are not like everyone else and it can make them pretty sad.”
Dad was a compassionate man.
He never, though, confused compassion with weakness. He was direct, didn’t mince words and had strong opinions. But, he had this way of listening, that let you know he understood and he cared.
He had sense of humor and wit. With maybe only three of four words, he could make a subtle observation, about everyday life and it would make you laugh out loud. Perhaps it helped that he had great delivery, but the more you thought about it, the funnier it got, because it would dawn on you, that there was a lot more to it. He loved to pun and also got the greatest kick out of being a dad. When we were kids, we would be snorkeling around the springs or out on the Gulf, and he would come over and ever so gently, slowly close the top of the snorkel.
When I was in High school at P.K Young, I was hanging out with my friends, next to the band room and Dad came walking up the street. I ran over to him and was hugging him and kissing him and making a fuss over him, and he said in a voice loud enough for my friends to hear, “Excuse me young lady, do I know you?!.”
I could go on for a while about my dad: about his intelligence, his love of classic literature, of being out on the water, how he was an inspiration to so many people and of his pride in children and grandchildren. Of how, especially before his heart attack 10 years ago, he was a real mover and shaker, and literally walked with a bounce in his step. That heart attack was a big one, and it took away that bounce, but it didn’t take away that… twinkle in his eyes. I’m sorry for the cliché, but I don’t know how else to put it, but anyone that knew him, knows what I’m talking about. You could see him light up, see that spark, when you walked in the room and he greeted you hello. It was unmistakable.
But one area I haven’t mentioned yet, was his capacity to love. He loved my mother totally and completely and was crazy about her. It went both ways. I have always thought they set the gold standard for marriage. He loved and enjoyed his family and his friends. As one of his kids, I always knew that he would be there for me no matter what and I grew up knowing that he loved me unconditionally. I loved to just be in his presence.
We are here today, to celebrate the life of my father and I would like to tell you, that I am so lucky. Here was this remarkable, compassionate, funny, intelligent and loving gentleman, and he was also our father, husband, brother, brother-in-law, father-in-law, grandfather, friend, and we will have that, all our lives.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Everything feels like - slow motion panic.